Sustainability is at the top of many apartment residents’ minds (a majority of residents are concerned about climate change and want to be part of the solution). One area of concern is how multifamily communities contribute greenhouse gas emissions, and if residents can use renewable energy instead to lessen that impact.
According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), about 12% of greenhouse gas emissions came from the commercial and residential sectors in 2018 (including homes and commercial businesses). Greenhous gases are gases that trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.
What produces these gases? Direct emissions come from burning fossil fuels (oil and gas) from heating, and indirect emissions come from burning fossil fuels at power plants to make electricity, which is then used for lighting and appliances.
Many renewable energy solutions seem to be designed for single-family homes like installing solar panels (using the sun’s light to generate electricity) or geothermal pumps (using earth’s constant underground temperature to heat or cool homes or the water supply). However, apartment residents absolutely can also participate in connecting to renewable energy solutions (often referred to as clean or green energy).
These are three ways that you can use renewable energy in apartments:
1. Switch to a renewable energy provider (you are most likely using a utilities provider that currently relies on fossil fuels).
By choosing an energy provider with a renewable energy or green energy option, residents can enjoy the benefits of a cost-effective and sustainable energy source. This does not require any big investment or installation costs. The EPA recommends comparing options to find what works best for you through online tool, “Find Green-e Certified,” The Center for Resource Solutions created the Green-e certification program and tool, which develops a standard for green power. Search for renewable energy options, then narrow your search by “Product Type” and “State.”
2. Find and join a community solar program.
Community solar is a solar project or purchasing program, in which multiple customers (individuals, businesses, nonprofits, or other groups) can benefit from the energy generated by solar panels. There are two types of community solar options: the off-site model or the on-site model.
With the off-site model, customers receive credits for energy generated by solar panels away from where they live, to go towards their energy bill, and will add more renewable energy available to the electricity grid.
With an on-site model, the multifamily community could benefit from the energy produced from solar panels on the apartment or condominium building rooftop.
3. Advocate for solar panel installation on the property.
If the property has a suitable roof and receives adequate sunlight, installing solar panels could provide many benefits. Property owners can receive federal tax credits, or a dollar for dollar reduction in the amount of income tax owed (for example, a $100 tax credit would decrease the cost of income tax by $100). As the price of solar panels has decreased by 99% over the last 40 years, this is a great opportunity to take advantage of the return on investment.
As residents are interested in being a part of sustainable multifamily development, portfolio owners can get creative with how to include renewable energy for their property. Opting into solar power (or other renewable energy sources) brings many benefits to various stakeholders.
STRATIS®, a RealPage Company, creates smart apartments and intelligent buildings and is the only platform of its kind built for the complexities of multifamily and student housing. STRATIS is installed worldwide across the U.S., in Japan, the UK, EU, and Latin America. STRATIS now serves hospitality, retail, and small to mid-size commercial, as well. STRATIS is an Inc. Magazine “Fastest Growing Company in America” and a Top Ten Entrepreneur Magazine “Best Company in America.” STRATIS was recently acquired by RealPage to enable CommunityConnect, a more connected lifestyle, and unleash hidden yield through new revenue streams.